Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books, February 5, 2016

DON'T FORGET RUTH RENDELL week in a month. 


(From the archives)

GHOST TOWN, Ed Gorman (from the archives)

It's been of some embarrassment to me that despite the many readers and writers of Westerns who contribute to Friday's Forgotten Books, I have not read one. Okay, I did read Lonesome Dove, but that's about the only one.

I've always suffered from the mistaken impression that Western novels resemble the TV westerns of my youth. The plots were about cattle rustling, bar fights, women depicted as all good (schoolmarms and wives) or all bad (saloon girls and hookers), shootouts, Indian fights, cattle herding, lynchings, etc. Everything seemed painted in black and white to match the day.

Ed Gorman took pity on my misconceptions and sent me two of his Westerns, saying he thought I'd be surprised at the modern Western and how it bore more a resemblance to noirish crime fiction than I might think.

I read GHOST TOWN and it was surprisingly like current crime fiction, but more than that, it was a terrific novel, regardless of its genre-leanings. GHOST TOWN was a great story, well-told, with interesting characters in an unfamiliar (to me) setting.

The book takes places in a small Wisconsin town overrun by both malaria and a few suspicious types who run the bank and the town. It's the story of Bryce Lamont, who comes here to get his share of the take from a jewelry theft that put him in prison. What he finds in that Wisconsin town will lead him down a bloody trail, jeopardizing himself and the people he loves.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot here, but let me say this--nearly every character in Ghost Town is complex--neither all good or bad, and this includes, of course, the protagonist. Although there is a lot of action in the novel, it never feels overdone. There is plenty of time to look around at the scenery, the clothes, medical practices, woman's issues, the news of the late 1800s in a small mid-western town. Despite this, the book is succinct, fast-moving and exciting.

Its greatest asset is-- this book has heart. You can feel it beating on every page. And that's not easy to pull off in any genre of writing. Grit and heart in one slim volume is a gift.

I will certainly read more Westerns after this one. It hardly hurt at all. Thanks, Ed.

Sergio Angelini, LULLABY, Ed McBain
Joe Barone, A THOUSAND FALLING CROWS, Larry D. Swearzy
Elgin Bleeker, UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, Stuart Woods
Bill Crider, HAIL STORME, W.L, Ripley
Martin Edwards, LOBELIA GROVE, Anthony Rolls
Rick Horton, THE GINGER STAR, Leigh Brackett
Jerry House, CAPTIVE, the Gordons
Nick Jones, Desmond Quarry's Mr. Pilgrim 
Margot Kinberg, MAXIMUM BOB, Elmore Leonard
Rob Kitchin, SLOW HORSES, Mick Herron
B.V. Lawson, HARBINGERS OF FEAR, Dorothy Sumpson
Evan Lewis, CONAN, THE DEFENDER, Robert Jordan
Steve Lewis/Walter Albert, JO GAR'S CASEBOOK, Raoul Whitfield
Todd Mason, THE LITTLE MAGAZINE IN AMERICA: A MODERN DOCUMENTARY HISTORY edited by Elliott Anderson and Mary Kinzie 
J.F. Norris, SO BAD A DEATH, June Wright
Matt Paust, THE COLD WAR SWAP, Ross Thomas
J. Kingston Pierce, BLACK WINGS HAS MY ANGEL, Elliot Chaze 
James Reasoner, HELL ROARIN TEXAS TOWN, Robert Denver 
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, KILLERS ARE MY MEAT, Stephen Marlowe
TomCat,LATE,LATE IN THE EVENING, Gladys Mitchell
TracyK, TRUST ME ON THIS, Donald E. Westlake 
Prashant Trikannad, THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE CIRCLE, Erle Stanley Gardner


Mathew Paust said...

Small Wisconsin town, eh? Wouldn't be my old stompin' grounds, would it? Goodness, I can hardly wait. A Wisconsin story by Ed Gorman, one of my all-time favorite writers. Ghost Town, here I come.

Mathew Paust said...

Ghost Town is not on Kindle yet, but I just now ordered a used copy for a penny.

Anonymous said...

I'm not generally a Western reader, either, Patti, unless it's a crime novel (like Tony Hillerman's work, for instance). I may have to re-think that...

Thanks, as always, for including my post.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I read this one recently along with a couple of other Gorman westerns, As with everything of Ed's I've read I enjoyed it tremendously. It is a very good book.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Thank you very much, Patti.

J F Norris said...

This one is a lot longer than I thought it would be! And I'm finally done.

So Bad A Death by June Wright

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

As always, great to be included in such great company! Thanks Patti.

Todd Mason said...

Remarkable how many of this week's choices I've read. That's rare. Thanks for assembly and inclusion!

James Reasoner said...

Patti, I think you would like all of Ed's Westerns.

Todd Mason said...

I certainly have, all that I've read so far. (About five, I believe.) Finally picked up a Daniel Ransom.

Mathew Paust said...

Ed's Civil War story The Face, which won a Spur Award, is one of the most profoundly moving pieces of writing I've yet to come across. It can be found in Dead Man's Gun, a collection of Ed's shorter pieces.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Matt. You might consider reviewing that collection.
James I have read one or two others since i read this review. As well as one or two of yours and Bill's.

Mathew Paust said...

Good suggestion, Patti. I was thinking of doing The Marilyn Tapes, but Dead Man's Gun is a better representation of his finer writing.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like Gorman's stuff a lot.